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matrix

1) Apart from information technology, matrix (pronounced MAY-triks ) has a number of special meanings. From the Latin word for womb (in turn from mater or mother), a matrix is either the intercellular substance of a tissue, the material in which a fossil is embedded, or a mold from which a relief surface is made in printing or phonograph manufacturing.

2) In mathematics and computer science, a matrix is a set of numbers laid out in tabular form (in rows and columns). From this meaning, a less formal meaning is derived of a complex of lines intersecting at right angles.

3) In cyberculture, the Internet and other networks that flow into it are altogether sometimes called "the matrix." In William Gibson's science-fiction novel, Neuromancer ," the matrix" is a vast sea of computing resources that can be visualized by the user, is accessible at many levels, and is lit up more intensely in the areas of greatest activity. The hero, Case, "jacks in" to the matrix through wiring that is (perhaps, since it's not entirely clear) integrated with his brain and explores the matrix with a "deck" or computer console that provides a holographic view.

This was last updated in September 2005

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